Who doesn't use their first name at all?

I’ve heard that the Army, at least at one time, would issue tags with initials followed by “only” - that is, your gramps would be W only H only Kitchen, or whatever. The guy who told this story was in a troop with an RB Somebody, and he became universally known as Ronly Bonly Somebody.

Truth/accuracy not certified. Nor is the tale of BJ Hunnicut.

This is something that I have never been able to understand. If you don’t want to use your first name (for whatever reason), why in the world do you use your first initial? It’s vastly simpler to drop that altogether and just use your middle name.

I once had a brief business encounter with a guy whose first name was Moe. I was sorely tempted to ask if his parents were Three Stooges fans, but refrained.

I do it too sometimes especially on resumes or formal letters. It is a stylistic issue plus it lets people know that you want to be called by your middle name rather than your first name. It isn’t that uncommon and it tends to get the message across very efficiently.

Gallagher uses only his last name.

Not entirely true. When he ran for Governor of California, he was listed as “Leo Gallagher” on the ballot. (Meanwhile, billboard model Angelyne was on the same ballot and was listed by just the one name, so there was no “you must list two names” requirement.)

I was born with two middle names, one beginning with an A and the second one beginning with a P. When only one middle initial is allowed, like on most forms, my initials would spell R.A.T. On many early legal forms, like my USA citizenship naturlization papers, only the A is listed.

As a young kid in elementary school I did not, of course, like the RAT thing, so when I was around 12 or so I said screw it, I’m just going to drop A and only use P. So everywhere I went or signed up for, I used only P. At 16, driver’s license, and that worked. When I joined the Marines at 19, same thing. And when I got my passport later, too.

I have never looked back. This is not a big deal because it’s a change only in middle name, and yet A and P are on my birth certificate so I could always point to that if I had to.

But it’s been 40 years so far. I’ll take P with me to my grave.

Oh yeah I forgot about that, back in the Grey Davis recall election. Wikipedia’s writeup of that uses only his last name though.

Teller only uses his last name.

I dunno. I’m from the UK, and my dad goes by a contraction of his middle name. My ex-wife also uses her middle name, and she is English. So I’m not sure it’s just Americans that do this.

This snopes page mentions Ronly Bonly Jones.

I’ve always gone by my middle name because that’s what my parents have called me since birth. Pretty much everyone I know outside immediate family and my wife have no idea it’s my middle and not first name.

When LIberace (born Wladziu Valentino Liberace) appeared on Groucho Marx’ program You Bet Your Life, he said he was one of few people allowed to register as a voter with only one name. Friends usually knew him as “Lee” Liberace.

Neither my wife’s father nor her paternal grandfather use their given names. Her dad uses only his initials (DK) and her grandpa uses just “Bud” which has no relationship to his actual given name. Her dad is in his 60s and grandpa in his 80s.

The late comedian/author Steve Allen told of his son Steve Allen Jr. gaining a middle name when he registered at the U of California. To indicate his lack of a middle name, he wrote “(None).” A clerk mistook it for Wonel, so that’s how UC knew him, Steve Wonel Allen, Jr…

My husband uses his middle name because his first name is Milton. You would too.

It’s so people understand that, say, your driver’s license says Milton Zsofia’s Husband, and your credit card says M. Zsofia’s Husband, and it’s more obvious that those are the same two people. Otherwise there’s more confusion. Because things like your passport and DL will always have your full real name on them.

I go by a shortened version of my unusual middle name. A real pain in the ass. However, I do get many compliments on it.

Me, too!

Rick is actually a syllable, but not a standard diminutive, of my middle name (it’s not Richard). My legal name comes from my paternal grandfather, who died before I was born. The name is old-fashioned and aggressively English in the way that many early 20th century American Jewish names are, though I was born in the 60s. My mother was not fond of the name, so she started calling me Ricky at birth.

Except for a few elementary school teachers by whom I was so intimidated that I didn’t speak up to tell them to call me by my nickname, no one who knows me uses my legal first name. I do use my legal name on all ID, bank accounts, credit cards, taxes, etc.

The father of a member of this board had the same problem. Just sayin’.

I use my first initial because I want to. I don’t need more of a reason than that.

As Zsofia and Shagnasty mentioned, it’s helpful in situations that might involve one’s full name (passports, tax returns, medical records, etc.). That first initial is an important clue for someone scrolling through a huge alphabetical list of names on a computer screen. But my primary reason for using the first initial is that I like it.